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OrganistOnTheHill

Easy Organ Pieces & leading a congregation?

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A trick I find useful for practicing hymns is some silent practice.  It really makes you think what your fingers and feet are doing.  I guess most practice was silent until the advent of electric blowing.

Thanks to Richard F for the Sontagsorgel recommendation.

 

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Regarding hymn accompaniment may I commend particularly the performance of Cwm Rhondda at today's royal wedding as an object lesson in how to herd a body of 800 people at exactly the right, rock-steady speed (although I could have done without the - admittedly very discreet - word painting in v.2) . The last verse reharmonisation-cum-descant was also a model of its kind: totally logical harmonically, but never over the top and with the interest maintained through to the end.
It's at 3:47:18 here.

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I missed the word-painting when listening live. Very tasteful compared to what I do in the line of "How great though art" that goes "....and hear the birds singredients sweetly in the trees" ?  Mind you, who was it who used the Blackadder theme as a descant to the 2nd half of the tune "Morning Light" ? ?

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10 hours ago, Andrew Butler said:

 Mind you, who was it who used the Blackadder theme as a descant to the 2nd half of the tune "Morning Light" ? ?

Am I allowed to plead induced insanity? :)

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36 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

Am I allowed to plead induced insanity? 

LOL!! 

I can't remember who the Assistant was at Norwich some years ago who "painted" "The lot is fallen unto me in a fairground" with the Cymbelstern and "There go the ships" with a blast on something low and strident....

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22 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Regarding hymn accompaniment may I commend particularly the performance of Cwm Rhondda at today's royal wedding as an object lesson in how to herd a body of 800 people at exactly the right, rock-steady speed (although I could have done without the - admittedly very discreet - word painting in v.2) . The last verse reharmonisation-cum-descant was also a model of its kind: totally logical harmonically, but never over the top and with the interest maintained through to the end.
It's at 3:47:18 here.

You'd probably be appalled at some of the things I do Vox! I'll add Mr Bond's effort to the bank I'm building for future use...and a number of them come from Cathedral organists, although some are my own inventions.

Agree it was excellent herding. For my taste in a big setting it could have been at a broader tempo (indeed, having read your post then watched it, not having seen the event, it was a wee bit faster than I expected). As an aside, if I was in the choir I'd have been extremely disappointed at the dull fare I was given to sing.

Back on tempo, I still recall the only occasion I attended Evensong at King's, Cambridge when I was astonished at how slowly 'Blaenwern' was taken. But by the time we got to the last verse it felt majestic, and that has stayed with me as an example to follow. A couple of weeks back when we had this as the recessional hymn I took it steadily (if not as slow as at King's) and it felt effective (with lots of organ and an extensive last verse reharmonisation). Our curate had to be nudged to give the dismissal as she was literally 'Lost in wonder, love and praise'. I took that as a joint compliment to me, the choir and congregation, Wesley, Penfro Rowlands and God (in unequal and probably increasing proportions)!

Incidentally, there's an interesting (perhaps understatement) take on 'Blaenwern' in the live BBC service from St Martin in the Fields for Pentecost morning. Apart from the incessant jazz harmonies and rhythms through the service grating on me, I was struck by how much I missed an organ accompanying it.

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4 minutes ago, Philip said:

Agree it was excellent herding. For my taste in a big setting it could have been at a broader tempo (indeed, having read your post then watched it, not having seen the event, it was a wee bit faster than I expected). As an aside, if I was in the choir I'd have been extremely disappointed at the dull fare I was given to sing.

Back on tempo, I still recall the only occasion I attended Evensong at King's, Cambridge when I was astonished at how slowly 'Blaenwern' was taken. But by the time we got to the last verse it felt majestic, and that has stayed with me as an example to follow.

Yes, I wouldn't have minded Cwm Rhondda being just a touch broader. I've never considered taking 'Blaenwern' slowly, but I can see how it might work. As I think I must have mentioned before (probably more than once), I have in the past very occasionally been required by conductors to take hymns at the kind of speeds Vaughan Williams recommended in the English Hymnal. It's fashionable to dismiss these - indeed, ridicule them - as being ludicrously slow. Yet in a big, resonant building with a big congregation (the latter in particular being essential, I think) they can sound very grand indeed.

The Tallis and the Rutter were nothing to frighten the horses, but the royal family are not noted for their sophisticated tastes in classical music. Both were very nicely performed though. Incidentally: I saw only twelve boys. Is that all there are? I do hope not.

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4 minutes ago, Vox Humana said:

The Tallis and the Rutter were nothing to frighten the horses, but the royal family are not noted for their sophisticated tastes in classical music. Both were very nicely performed though. Incidentally: I saw only twelve boys. Is that all there are? I do hope not.

Well yes, but Wills and Kate managed I was glad, Blest pair, a Rutter writes Rutter commission and Paul Mealor. I hoped we'd get another commission or, failing that, something a bit more interesting. To be engaged to sing for an occasion like that and then get told that's all you're singing - still, I'm sure they were all paid handsomely for it.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Butler said:

I can't remember who the Assistant was at Norwich some years ago who "painted" ... "There go the ships" with a blast on something low and strident....

Ah yes, good old Ps. 104. Very many decades ago I used to play for a choir who did cathedral visits in the summer. This psalm came up more than once and the conductor always asked for a touch of the 32' reed for "and there is that Leviathan". On the old Harrison and Harrison at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (anyone remember that?) it sounded particularly filthy, but the conductor still seemed to think it OK.

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1 minute ago, Philip said:

Well yes, but Wills and Kate managed I was glad, Blest pair, a Rutter writes Rutter commission and Paul Mealor. 

Very true. That programme was far more imaginative. 

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3 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Ah yes, good old Ps. 104. Very many decades ago I used to play for a choir who did cathedral visits in the summer. This psalm came up more than once and the conductor always asked for a touch of the 32' reed for "and there is that Leviathan". On the old Harrison and Harrison at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (anyone remember that?) it sounded particularly filthy, but the conductor still seemed to think it OK.

Herbert Byard, whose last months as a lecturer at Bristol University coincided with my first months as a student, recalled running from school on the 15th Evening to hear Sir Herbert Brewer smite the enemies of the Lord in the hinder parts in Psalm 78.  He found out later that this was achieved with a quick double jab on the Ophicleide reversible.

Was the 32' reed at Christ Church ever put in?  I thought it was prepared-for.

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4 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

Was the 32' reed at Christ Church ever put in?  I thought it was prepared-for.

I could swear that I remember it at Ch Ch, but it was so long ago that's it's quite possible I'm confusing it with somewhere else.

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I thought the Chapel Choir contribution to 'the wedding' was absolutely first-class. The Tallis was beautifully sung and, whilst I can do without noises Rutter makes, it is a piece, totally appropriate to the occasion and beautifully crafted. I completely agree with the comments,  made by VH, about the descant to Cwm Rhondda.  The Gospel choir were outstanding as was the young 'cellist, from the RAM, playing Faure, von Paradis and an arrangement of Schubert. 

The choice of the Handel aria, for entrance music, I thought, was inspired and beautifully performed as was the Boyce Symphony. 

All in all a programme of appropriate, well-chosen music, beautifully performed,  is my take on it all!

And then there was the Preacher ................................................... Wow!

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The old organ at Ch Ch had no 32' reed.  It was prepared for only, and I remember being rebuked when I pulled it by mistake instead of the 16' Ophicleide that Dr Watson was expecting.

It did have a very fine 32' Violone, though, the bottom octave of which is now on the Grove organ at Tewkesbury.

Paul

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